Nuclear Energy Cannot Be Ignored, Urges Industry

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Byline: By DAVID WILLIAMSON Western Mail

An urgent debate is needed on the role of nuclear energy in the Welsh economy, according to business leaders, industry and the unions. John Cridland, deputy director of the Confederation of British Industry, said it was 'absolutely essential' that a debate takes place about what contribution - if any - nuclear power will have in supplying Wales in the 21st century.

Economic development minister Andrew Davies has stated there is no 'commercial case' for more nuclear power stations in Wales, although he supports the UK Government's neutral stance on nuclear energy. However, last night he said he welcomed a healthy debate.

Trade unions have joined the CBI in voicing concern that there is no mention of nuclear power in Energy Wales, the Assembly Government's consultation document.

Mr Cridland, who was visiting companies in Wales yesterday, said the CBI was not pushing nuclear energy as a solution to rising oil and gas costs but 'nuclear is part of the debate'.

Richard Roberts, energy manager at Anglesey Aluminium Metal, is concerned the company would be hit by rising prices if nuclear power in Wales came to an end.

It derives much of its energy from the Wylfa nuclear facility in North Wales, which it wants to see refurbished instead of closed in 2010.

He said, 'As a large energy user we are looking for policies that would put a downward pressure on prices.'

The nation, he said, needed a diverse mix of energy supplies and 'nuclear would have a part to play'.

The Institution of Civil Engineers responded to the Energy Wales paper by demanding leadership on the nuclear issue, saying, 'Decisions about the future of the Welsh nuclear capacity must be addressed now, otherwise closure without replacement of existing assets is inevitable.

'The institution continues to support a multi-fuel generation portfolio to avoid undue reliance on any specific fuel type.'

The Assembly Government is legally bound to promote sustainable development but claims this is spurring the development of world class expertise and technology.

At a speech to the British Wind Energy Association in Cardiff this week, Mr Davies said, 'This vision, which is fast becoming a reality, is to make Wales a global showcase for clean energy, while maintaining the international competitiveness of our economy. …